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The Beauty Tool Breakdown: Sponges and Brushes

The Beauty Tool Breakdown: Sponges and Brushes

I remember being shocked the first time I applied my face makeup with a sponge. I was able to blend it out so perfectly that it looked airbrushed. I tried a sponge after years of just using my fingers and realized that I needed a better application technique. Needless to say, my makeup went on smoother and lasted longer, so now I’m loyal to these game-changing tools.


I recently asked my friends what they use to apply their face makeup and most replied that they haven’t tried any of my beloved beauty tools. I understand that using your fingers is cheap, easy, and effective for some looks. However, if you want flawless full coverage you really need to experiment with different makeup applicators, and there are plenty for you to choose from.


I use sponges more often than brushes, especially when I’m short on time. They are incredibly easy to use and make such a big difference, so I implore everyone to try one. The key to a great application with a sponge is to dampen it with water, then dab the product on and blend it out. Using a dry sponge will absorb more product and won’t give as smooth of a finish as a damp sponge will, and you definitely don’t want to drag a dry sponge across your delicate face. Ouch. Some people like to spray their sponges with primer water like MAC Prep + Prime Fix + before applying their makeup, but I’ll let you ease into it.


Sponges can be used for liquid and powder makeup, but I mostly use them for my foundation and concealer and save my brushes for contouring, blush, and highlighter.

Beauty Blender – $20.00

Beauty Blender is obviously my top choice for sponges. It really is the best, the OG, the one you should splurge on. Their sponge is shaped like an egg with a smaller point on one side, making the larger part perfect for your forehead and cheeks, while the pointed end can reach under your eyes and the creases of your nose. My only complaint is that the price point is a little high, which brings me to my second favorite.

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Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge – $6.00

Real Techniques makes a wide variety of makeup applicators, and I love their Miracle Complexion Sponge as a replacement for my Beauty Blender when I don’t feel like spending a lot of money. It works pretty much the same as Beauty Blender, but it’s a little bigger so if you have small features and need your sponge to fit into small spaces, this may not be the right one for you.

When comparing the pros and cons of sponges, I find that the good outweighs the bad, but I’ll enlighten you on the downside to help you decide what’s best for you. To start out, they’re not cheap. Especially not when compared to your free fingers. It’s recommended that we replace our sponges every 1-3 months since bacteria will build up and they may tear which creates an uneven surface. Another downside is that sponges will absorb a lot more product than your fingertips of course, so if you don’t want to waste an ounce of foundation, they not be the right choice for you.


Brushes aren’t as beginner-friendly as sponges, but a good set of brushes will make you feel like a pro in no time. When choosing a brush set, you have to think about what you’ll be using them for. As in, do you want a simple set for foundation and blush, or do you want to go the extra mile and contour, bake, and highlight? Maybe you follow a cruelty-free lifestyle and want synthetic brushes over natural brushes which made with animal fur. Luckily there are tons of great brush sets on the market, so you’re bound to find one that fits your needs.

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Sigma Beauty Essential Brush Kit – Make Me Classy – $125.00

I love this brush set and use it almost every day. It’s called the Essential Brush Kit because it contains everything you need to apply face and even eye makeup. Each brush is engraved on the side to remind you what it’s used for, which is good if you’re anything like me and start your Saturday night makeup after a few drinks and need a little reminder. The synthetic bristles are soft and smooth and apply makeup seamlessly, and are cruelty-free, of course.

Ecotools Start the Day Beautifully Kit – $12.99

Ecotools is an affordable brand with great brushes if you’re not ready to go all out on an expensive set. This kit includes three brushes for face makeup and two for eye makeup and even has instructions for different looks, making it an ideal starter kit. Like the Sigma brushes, these are soft, long-lasting, and cruelty-free, but at a fraction of the price.

While fingertips may work for some people, brushes and sponges are great beauty tools to try no matter where you are in your makeup journey. Beginners will find that sponges are easy to use, while more experiences makeup lovers might find that brushes help with precision. Save your fingers for texting and try something new, I promise you’ll love the results.

by Clare Saxton
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